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White Water Rafting FAQs - Northern Outdoors

Maine white water rafting - northern outdoors   maine whitewater rafting -northern outdoors   maine rafting vacations - northern outdoors

Never Been Rafting? Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

We want you enjoy a magical rafting trip in Maine's wonderful North Woods. If you still have questions, please don't hesitate to call our Adventure Specialists directly, or Contact Us. We're here to help!  See also Choosing A Family Trip for more guidance in setting your family or group up for the most successful adventure vacation.

Best Time To Go

We schedule trips every day from early May through mid October. The early season spring run off provides the most exciting whitewater in the Northeast. Throughout the summer, daily dam releases on The Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers guarantee excellent Class IV and V rafting adventures. The combination of MAGNIFICENT foliage, higher water flows, and generally fewer people has made late season rafting in September and October a very popular choice for many of our guests.

Experience and “Know How”

Many people have had little or no whitewater experience. We give a short practice instruction session before all of our adventure trips. Under most circumstances, IF YOU ARE ... of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, then you should have no problem enjoying a trip with Northern Outdoors. However, it should be noted that on rare occasions rafts do capsize and/or guests can be swept overboard. In such situations your guide will make every attempt to assist, but your physical condition should be such that you can ‘self help’ and ‘float it out’ without further endangering yourself and others.

Safety First!

On a Northern Outdoors paddle raft adventure everyone powers the raft, working as a team with a guide. For your safety and ours, no alcohol or drugs are permitted either before, or during the trip. While Northern Outdoors has more experience running the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Dead Rivers than any other company, it should be noted that we specialize in providing “highly exciting trips” and there is an element of danger present at all times. Everyone is required to sign a participation agreement form before taking part in any adventure. This form is binding and, when signed, you accept responsibility for any injures or losses that may occur while on a trip with Northern Outdoors. Everyone under 18 must have a form signed by a parent or legal guardian.
Participation Agreement Forms are available in advance simply by calling our office, or by downloading our online form.

Equipment and Reliability

Northern Outdoors uses the finest equipment available. Our standard Kennebec and Penobscot self-bailing rafts were custom built for us specifically for each river. All river gear, wetsuits, paddles, camping equipment, etc. is of the highest quality. Our guide staff is absolutely the most experienced in Maine and are chosen on the basis of character, competency, and congeniality.

River Meals

Our standard river meal is grilled steak, teriyaki chicken, salmon steak or veggie burger cooked over a hardwood fire, accompanied by stir fried rice, salad and homemade dessert.
Note: Guests with special dietary requests should inform their group organizer to notify us, and we will try to accommodate their needs.

We Supply

We supply all water craft, life preservers, helmets, paddles, professional Registered Maine Guides, shuttle bus transportation and all meals while on a raft adventure. We attempt to have a video and still photographer on every Penobscot, Kennebec and Dead River raft adventure we run.

You Supply

You supply bathing suit, sneakers, wool or polar fleece sweater, wind breaker or rain suit. (Do not wear cotton T-shirts, sweaters or jeans on the river.) A dry change of clothes, plus a towel should be waiting for you at the base following the trip. Always wear more clothes than you think you’ll need. Our motto is “you can always take it off”. Footwear must be worn at all times while on the river (sneakers, river sandals, or soft soled shoes).


For all whitewater adventures prior to June 1st, and after October 1st, wetsuits are mandatory, and we strongly recommend them on all cold or overcast days. Under most conditions, a wet suit will keep you warm and comfortable. On very cold days, you may wish to wear a wool or fiberpile sweater and windbreaker over the suit. You may also wish to bring wool or neoprene gloves for additional comfort. A wool cap is strongly recommended. (DO NOT wear cotton T-shirts under your wetsuit. Cotton, when wet, stays cold; wool, polypropylene and modern synthetic thermal materials shed water and stay warm.)
Wetsuits are available for rental, at each river base, payable on the morning of your adventure, priced as follows: Farmer John $10; Top Half or Paddle Jacket $5; Full Suit $15; Booties $5

Medical Restrictions

You must bring any personal medications with you on your adventure, such as bee sting kits, asthma inhalers, etc. Because of our wilderness locations, the nearest emergency medical facilities can be hours away.
Our life jackets are Coast Guard approved and rated for a maximum chest size of 56.” We reserve the right to refuse anyone the opportunity to participate in any of our adventures because of a medical, physical or size limitation that we feel might expose them to extreme risk.

Trip Cancellations

Cancellation of a trip is unlikely, but if we feel forced to, for any reason, we reserve the right to do so. In the event of abnormal weather conditions, we reserve the right to shorten or lengthen the scheduled section of a river to be run on any given day. If water levels on the river are abnormally high, or low, we reserve the right to switch the river we run on any given day.

Trip Participation

Anyone under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or demonstrating unruly behavior will be denied services, accommodations, and/or trip participation and will be ordered to leave without refund or compensation.

Resort Center Locations and Trip Check-in Times

Please be sure to check the location of your Resort Center.
  • Check-in time for accommodations is after 4pm.
  • Check in time for Kennebec Whitewater Adventures is 7:45am at The Forks Resort Center.
  • Check in time for Dead River Whitewater Adventure is between 8:00am and 8:30am at The Forks Resort Center Basecamp.
  • Check in time for Penobscot Whitewater Adventures is 7:30am at Abol Bridge Campground Basecamp.
  • Guest are required to check-out of their accommodations by 11am or before they leave in the morning for an adventure trip.

Smoke-Free Resorts

All buildings and accommodations at The Forks Resort Center, Abol Bridge Campground and Rip Dam Sporting Camps are smoke-free. We ask that you please step outside to smoke. There is a $100 per unit, per night cleaning charge for any accommodation that has been smoked in. Thank you in advance for your understanding and support of a smoke free environment for all indoors!


Just had the best time ever rafting the Kennebec. Will be back to do Dead River and the Penobscot. Thank you all for such a fantastic time. The staff/ guides are all stars. Hopefully see you all next year

– Catherine L.
Your Family Package was a great way to introduce our two suburban, TV loving children to the wonders of Maine. And, it didn't hurt that the whitewater rafting was more exciting than any theme park ride! Our family will definitely be back.

– Jim M. - Norwalk, CT